The Law Society, Legal Aid and Domestic Abuse
2 July 2014 by Charlotte Knappett
As the President of the Mid Essex Law Society, Accredited Specialist in Domestic Abuse and Legal Aid Solicitor I write to raise awareness of the Law Society’s stance in supporting a challenge brought by the Public Law Project on behalf of Rights of Women.
The Public Law Project is challenging the lawfulness of Government changes to legal aid. Research has shown that those changes are preventing victims of domestic abuse from obtaining legal aid for family cases, even when it is clear there has been abuse or indeed it is an ongoing risk. Rights of Women (a charity) argue that this is not what parliament intended.
Legal aid changes, introduced by the Government in April 2013 include regulations which stipulate strict evidential requirements to secure legal aid.
In many cases this can be extremely difficult to obtain and is subject to a 24 month time limit. Access to Justice in cases of grave risk being restricted.
Law Society President Nicholas Fluck said: “The LASPO legal aid cuts have resulted in radical consequences for access to justice with the worst impact affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society. It is vital that survivors of domestic abuse can bring evidence to satisfy the broader statutory meaning of domestic violence, not the over-strict tests required by the regulations as they now stand. Survivors should not be excluded from accessing legal aid for family law disputes against an abusive ex partner or relative.”
I await further news.
At Fisher Jones Greenwood, we offer legal aid and have a large team of domestic abuse and family law experts to help you. If you are not sure if you are eligible for legal aid please still contact us. Our service is of course entirely confidential.